Newfoundland and Labrador is not the province it was five years ago. Before our government entered office in 2003, this province was spiraling downward into an abyss, fiscally, economically and socially. Infrastructure was crumbling, social programs were unraveling, raw resources were being shipped away, vast numbers of people were leaving and public indebtedness was increasing. This was not a path that could continue.
We came to office with a new approach. We wrestled down the fiscal dragon by instituting public sector program renewal, performance targets and frank accountability. We ratcheted up growth by developing strategies sector by sector to identify opportunities for capitalizing on our strengths. We adopted some of the most progressive social policies in the country: a student aid program that is one of the best in Canada; and a Poverty Reduction Strategy that national anti-poverty leaders are hailing as the standard by which all others should be measured.
Bold, imaginative thinking has changed the face of Newfoundland and Labrador. Employment has risen to record highs. Economic prospects have never looked brighter. This turn of fortune has not happened by accident. It has happened by design. It is the product of a sound approach, strategic planning, solid leadership and steadfast cooperation with our people and communities, workers and investors, educators and innovators throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.
We are stepping up to the plate and making the most of the opportunities before us. We are stepping up our game and intensifying our efforts to translate investment prospects into prosperity. We are stepping up to a new plateau of success and strength by putting the resources and talents of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to work more effectively to
secure a sustainable future in which our families can prosper and thrive for generations to come. We are standing tall as powerful contributors to the federation – as masters of our own domain, stronger and more secure than we have ever been before. And even though we would rather find a federal government that is ready to work with us as partners for growth instead of against us as partisan foes, nothing will hold us back from achieving our goals and fulfilling our dreams.
We continue to feel a deep sense of betrayal and frustration over the federal government’s refusal to honour their explicit written commitment to remove nonrenewable resource revenues from the calculation of Equalization entitlements. By keeping their word, they would have advanced our efforts to address our excessive burden of debt and achieve parity in the federation. Nevertheless, their unwillingness to honour their written commitment will do nothing to prevent us from achieving our goals on our own steam.